3 Lessons From The Top Innovation Experts

Presented at the Chief Innovation Officer Summit


This year I had the honor of chairing the first day of the Chief Innovation Officer Summit hosted by Innovation Enterprise. I knew I was in for a treat but to be honest my expectations were blown away by the knowledge and experience each speaker shared with the audience. These were the three takeaways that I took from the conference:

Use Crowdsourcing To Increase Innovation

A common theme throughout the day was to keep the concept of crowdsourcing, both internal and external, at the top of the mind. There were several mentions of how crowdsourcing has assisted some of the most cherished brands around the world. Robert Gavazzi, Sr. Director of Global Innovation at Hershey’s shared an anecdote on how their ‘Framework of Freedom’ worked.

This allowed a plant worker to contribute to internal innovation efforts that ultimately led to a change in palette wrapping resulting in a savings of 4.5 millions dollars annually for the company.

Michael Morris, founding partner and current General Manager of online computer programming competitions platform Topcoder, shared his thoughts on crowdsourcing talent and how we can use platforms like Topcoder to leverage the world’s top problem-solvers (designers, developers, and data scientists) to compete on problems that are actually worth solving. If you’re looking for a fresh perspective or resources not readily available within your company, just crowdsource it!

Content Big Data Is King

Do you know where there are opportunities for your company to innovate? If you’re like most companies, you’ll look at past and current trends to make predictions as to where the future of your industry is heading. You might even be bold and take a chance on a technology that you think will be revolutionary. However, if your company is one thats foundation is based on filing patents or advising strategic innovation efforts, like Boston Engineering and Signals Group, you rely on something more concrete: big data.

Coming from the design world, I have my own framework to kick starting innovation, but leveraging the data that already exists has led to success including a recent Series B funding round for Signals Group of $15 million dollars. In Kobi Gershoni’s, co-founder of the Israeli startup, presentation he talked about the possibilities that are available for unicorn startup vet Uber and how creating a sightseeing feature could lead to an additional $350 million dollar business driver (no pun intended).

Innovation Can Come From Anyone And Anywhere

My favorite takeaway of the day was the non-surprising amount of stories in almost each presentation preaching that innovation can come from anyone and anywhere. At Motivate Design, we are believers in this and have worked hard to spread that message through my book Reframe: Shift the Way You Work, Innovate, and Think. BBVA is trying to spread a similar message. They launched their own OpenTalent competition, which harnesses the power of fintech startups around the world to discover the best talent and technology; CapitalOne launched their own innovation labs across the United States and brought in non-finance perspectives to their core innovation teams. I had the pleasure of moderating a panel with Scott Totman, Head of Mobile Technology, Payments, and Innovation at CapitalOne, and we talked about the different technologies that seemed to have come out of nowhere (For me, my first Twitter experience left me wondering who would ever use it!) and he noted that game-watching platforms like Twitch was something he never suspected to be a thing.

All in all, this conference proved to set the standard for taking an in-depth look into how innovation is implemented at some of the world’s most well known companies. It was refreshing to see that there are executives who invest not only time and money into these efforts, but are willing to share their mistakes, triumphs, and lessons learned along the way.


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